Precision agricultural data and ecosystem services: can we put the pieces together?

Published online
02 Nov 2023
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Ecological Solutions and Evidence

Robinson, S. V. J. & Schwinghamer, T. & Cárcamo, H. & Galpern, P.
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Ecosystem services can maintain or increase crop yield in agricultural systems, but data to support management decisions are expensive and time-consuming to collect. Furthermore, relationships derived from small-scale plot data may not apply to ecosystem services operating at larger spatial scales (fields and landscapes). Precision yield data (PYD) can be used to improve the accuracy and geographic range of ecosystem service studies but have been underused in previous studies: out of 370 literature records, we found that less than 2% of all records were used to study biotic or landscape effects on yield. We argue that this is likely due to low data accessibility and a lack of familiarity with spatial data analysis. We provide examples of analysis using simulated PYD, and outline two case studies of ecosystem services using PYD. Ecologists and agronomists should consider using PYD more broadly, as it can be used to test hypotheses about ecosystem services across multiple spatial scales, and could be used to inform the design of multifunctional farming landscapes.

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